Sunday, 28 September 2008

Memememememe! (again, I'm a sucker for memes)

Tagged by the divinely and slightly (despite what he says) musk-ox-esque Kal for a meme. One that makes you think too. Oh well, here goes.

I am: More fun than I look, most of the time.

I think: Too much.

I know: A lot of trivia. Seriously, lots. Go on, test me.

I have: A birthmark. Quite a big one. No, you can't see it.

I wish: I didn't care what people think.

I hate: Anything bad happening to children. Makes me cry. Oh, and celery. Blech.

I miss: My days at University. I really didn't make the most of them at the time and would love to be able to go back and do it all again properly. Obviously, I would also like to be 19 again because a 41 year old throwing up in a gutter in Freshers' Week is just sad.

I fear: For my children. But that's normal, isn't it?

I hear: Right now? The fan on this god-awful Stalinist crappy laptop I got to replace my lovely Vaio which was stolen in the burglary. Seriously, it's so loud you have to shout over it.

I smell: Badly. I don't mean I smell bad - well, I suppose I might but no-one has taken me to one side and tactfully handed me a can of Right Guard yet - I mean that my sense of smell is poor. I am the person you don't want to have around in a gas leak. "No, I can't smell a thing, I'm sure it's fine, go ahead and light that candle....."

I crave: Everyone’s approval. Copying Kal here but it's true (See: I Wish above). I have a deeply ingrained need to try to make other people happy, even if it makes me miserable. I am happy knowing my misery is making them happier. Wow, I'm screwed up.

I search: For car keys, missing socks and bits of Lego.

I wonder: What would have happened if I had stood up to my guidance teacher at school and gone of to study marketing and modern languages at Uni like I wanted to.

I regret: Not travelling more when I had the chance, before work and children sucked all of the time (and money) away. I know now I will never backpack around Europe.

I love: Books and words generally; comfort food; my husband and children; pompous self-important depressing 80s music; Strictly Come Dancing (sorry, had to get it in somewhere). Oh, and chocolate but that' s a bad relationship I'm trying to get out of.

I ache: When I get up in the morning. I am getting on a bit, you know.

I am not: The droid you are looking for.

I believe: In rainbows. Achoo. (Only my husband will get that one)

I dance: Horribly and very self-consciously, unless it's a ceilidh in which case I dance dangerously.

I sing: Even though my children beg me to stop.

I cry: More than I would like to. But I'm working on that.

I fight: Not at all. I am not a fighter, I'm a run-away-and-avoid-conflict-er.

I win: Logical arguments. I am a fearsome and relentless debater as long as the topic is not too close to home.

I lose: My sense of perspective sometimes. And earrings.

I never: Wear make-up. Never learned, can't be bothered.

I always: used to say I would never get married or have children. Hmmm. Let's see if this still works: "I will never win a million pounds on the lottery!"

I confuse: the cat by miaowing at her. She can't figure out whether she's human or we're cats.

I listen: to music when running and when other people are around. On my own, I like silence.

I can usually be found: I am not that good at hide and seek.

I am scared: Of heights if I am somewhere up high and there is no barrier. In other words, top of the CN tower, indoors? No problem. Standing too close to the edge of a moderate cliff? Eek.

I need: To stop eating chocolate and cheese and buttered toast and get back to the fruit and salad before my wardrobe explodes in protest.

I am happy about: This blog and the fact that I have "met" in a virtual sense (and sometimes IRL) so many cool and interesting people through it. If I win the lottery I am taking 6 months off and coming round to visit each and every one of you in person. Don't worry, I'll bring cookies.

I imagine: Frequently.

I am supposed to tag folks now, and I was going to tag Croila but I wasn't quick enough. I think I will cop out instead and let anyone who could do with a blog idea do it if they want (Lynsey, I'm looking at you!)

Thursday, 25 September 2008

You're useless and I love you all

Wow. I have to say how delighted I was to hear that so many of you ladies out there routinely hem your trousers with the aid of either superglue or staples. (My preferred method of sellotape was roundly and rightly condemned as amateurish and dangerous to washing machines.) The sheer practical inventiveness out there is impressive and of course, your collective cluelessness with a needle makes me feel much better about myself. Blogging: cheaper than thereapy.

I do think there is a business opportunity here though, prompted by what Spiral Skies said: if you are going to have the flash of staples in your breeks, why doesn't someone market a stapler intended for the purpose? With a range of colour-coded staples, like those boxes of assorted coloured threads you get with some sewing kits? You could make them a feature - sparkly rhinestone ones for evening wear, sombre greys and blacks for business wear. Or use contrasting ones to show how quirky and cool you are. Geometric patterns for the arty among you. Presumably they could make the staples out of something other than metal, though, so that you don't have to take your trousers off to get through airport security.

I am convinced this is a genius idea and am off to prepare a patent application. I promise I will almost certainly, probably, cut you all in on the profits when I am a millionaire. Maybe.

Wednesday, 24 September 2008

Things I wish I could do # 1

This is part one of a random series of posts that I suspect I will resort to when the blank bloggy screen mocks me with its un-filled-up-ness. I may also start a series on "Words that should exist but don't so I am inventing them. Stop laughing." I will see how I feel.

Anyway, number one on this list is: I wish I could sew. In an absolutely ideal world I would be able to make my own clothes, so that when I had the idle thought of "I could really do with a plain black skirt about so long, with pockets, and maybe some cool button-y detail", I could do something about it that did not involved traipsing round clothes shops (yuck) looking for stuff that will not make me look like Jabba the Hut's less attractive sister and having to go into changing rooms and try said stuff on before rejecting it on the basis of the said resemblance to siblings of Jabba the Hut. (Wow. That was a long sentence. Are you all still breathing okay?)

A friend/flatmate from university days had a friend who could do this sort of stuff and I was very jealous. She could say "I would really love a long, gathered grey skirt that has lots of fabric in it and reaches down almost to my black pointy goth-type shoes" (it was the Eighties after all) and lo and behold, her pal would come up with the goods.

Or my friend B. from school days who was really arty and could draw and sketch and paint AND make clothes. She made my wedding dress for me. Based on my very clear and comprehensible instructions along the lines of "Long, silk, cream/ivory, sleeves, no foofy stuff. Well maybe a bow. A small one. Maybe." B. took this in her stride, looked me up and down and produced a drawing of a design that up until then had only existed in my head. She then made the dress for me from scratch, without ever going near me with a tape measure (a dangerous endeavour at the best of times) and with minimial alteration. I loved it. Wouldn't it be cool to be able to do that whenever you felt like it?

Frankly I would be happy just to be able to take up hems neatly, sew on the odd button/name tape (OMG the name tapes on the boys' uniforms!) or make minor alterations. But I can't. I am hopeless with a needle. Well actually, I can thread a needle really well, really quickly. But then I don't have a clue what to do with it.

I was pretty good at school - most subjects I did well in. The academic stuff was fine, PE I managed by dint of being a reasonable swimmer and badminton player and remarkably good at conning my way out of everything else. Cookery, or "food and nutrition" as it was then known I got by in because I was an okay cook even if I tended not to follow the recipes properly. Sewing however - sorry, "fabric and fashion" - I bombed in. Just useless.

The first item of clothing we were supposed to make was a really basic skirt and I failed before I got anywhere near a needle by cutting out two fronts instead of a front and a back. Teacher sighed and cut out a back for me. I signed my F&F death warrant, however, when I went to the sewing machine to sew the seams in said skirt. And threaded the machine with elastic thread (I think the kind of thread you use when you do that sort of gathered elasticated stuff). My teacher could not believe I was so dense as to do this by accident and decided instead that I was obviously trying to be funny. I was thrown out of the class, to the relief of all.

I like to think that I was just a victim of the last vestiges of institutional sexism as only us girls had to do Fabric and Fashion and Food and Nutrition. The boys got to do Woodwork and Technical Drawing, which would have been much more fun. If I could screw up threading a sewing machine, imagine the havoc I could have wreaked with a circular saw!

All of which is a long way of explaining why it's not really my fault that I am sitting here wearing my nice almost-designer grey trousers, the hems of which are currently held up with sellotape.

Thursday, 18 September 2008


Joke from Second Born last night as we were putting his light out:

- Doctor! Doctor! There's a strawberry in my bottom!

- I've got cream for that.

So, ten bonus points to SB for making his parents giggle.

This morning from First Born who is trying desparately to explain Pokemon to me (poor child thinks I'm interested).

FB: Mum! There's a Pokemon you'd really like! It's called Chancy! (I think that's what he said)

Me: Why would I particularly like it?

FB: Because it is fat and pink and it's sort of like a servant.

Fill in your own punchlines and dock ten brownie points off FB while you're at it, will you?

Monday, 15 September 2008

That was nice

Rubbishy title but accurate. I had rather a nice weekend, all told. Pottered about on Saturday shopping, cooking and generally loafing about. I made fajitas for dinner at the request of the two offspring. Husband and I had the full Monty: chicken fried with spices, peppers and onions, served with guacamole, salsa and creme fraiche held gingerly together in a tortilla wrap - I even make the guacamole and salsa myself (remind me of why I need to lose weight again?)

First Born will deign to have a smidgeon of salsa and some of the chicken, peppers and onion mix on his tortilla. Second Born however is serious about not allowing vegetable matter to pass his lips (shh, don't tell him what I put in the pasta sauce before I run it through the blender!) He exercises the concentration, skill and dedication of a neurosurgeon as he extracts ONLY pieces of chicken - uncontaminated by peppers or onion - and he won't even look at the salsa, guacamole or sour cream. Heathen. I doubt sometimes that I can be related to him, but then I remember watching him pounce upon the display of half price Milka chocolate in Sainsbury's with what I swear was a cackle, and I have to accept he is indeed mine.

The boys were off school for the local holiday today, Monday, so we had planned to make the most of the long weekend. Sunday morning we fed the children, packed up and dropped them off with their grandparents. Husband and I were meeting his colleague and her husband for a sort of business brainstorming weekend, and that is best done where there is space and time to think with no children to worry about. And also good food and wine and a wide selection of malt whiskies within easy reach. Obviously.

There is a lovely little country church right next door to the hotel and as we arrived it seemed to be quite busy. Lots of efficient looking ladies in hats and sensible coats. I assume there was a sale of work or harvest festival or something going on, as one of the said ladies standing at the entrance to the car park was holding a leek and a bundle of six pancakes (yes I counted) wrapped in clingfilm. She had either just bought them or she was oddly diligent about taking her groceries to morning worship.

The session went well, all brains were properly stormed and we felt like we had earned our dinner. Husband and I also enjoyed the luxury of a lovely quiet room (with a dressing room! And a sink EACH in the bathroom!) and no children arguing about Dr Who at 7am. After a leisurely breakfast (I love breakfast cooked and cleared away by someone else) we headed home, picking up the offspring on the way. On the way to get them, my mobile phone rang in the car. Husband fished it out of my bag (no mean feat in itself) and answered it. It was my Dad. Who responded to Husband's hearty "Hello!" with "I'm sorry, I think you have the wrong number". Husband pointed out that it was he who had phoned me so this was unlikely. My Dad hasn't really got the hang of mobiles yet. Whenever he uses one he always holds it gingerly, as if he suspects it might explode in his hand or start asking him what the capital of Venezuala is. I could just imagine him, standing in the middle of Asda, wondering why his phone had started phoning random people without telling him. Cunning stuff, technology.

Anyway, we are back home now. Husband and First Born are playing Wii tennis and hitting each other between points. As far as I can tell, they appear to have decided to make tennis more interesting by playing doubles and allowing the computer to provide the partners. I am assuming this is what they have done as there are shouts from both of them of "Get it for goodness sake woman!" and "You could have got that if you tried!" Since the only females in the house are me and the cat, and neither of us are any good at Wii tennis, I'm assuming the computer generated partners are female. The Wii, for its part, seems to be ignoring them. Sensible machine. I think I'll do the same. Off now for some food, followed by a cup of tea and bed at the heady hour of about 9.30. I am remarkably easily pleased these days.

Sunday, 7 September 2008

I think they are aliens

First Born and Second Born, when they are not torturing each other, often play together. Their games are lengthy, complicated, entirely in their imaginations and most of the time I don't want to know the details. I suspect I wouldn't understand them even if they were explained to me.

Occasionally however we catch snippets and can't help being intrigued. Sunday morning, for example. I had sprung crawled out of bed early in order to go to Sainsbury's when it is quiet enough for me to get round without plotting how to kill people in my head. I came home bearing shopping including a baguette (well it was actually a pain flute but anything long and bready and stick-like in our house is called a baguette). To digress slightly, I find it hilarious that our children pronounce "baguette" like Flight of the Conchords do in "Fou de fa fa", ie heavy french accent followed by "haw hee haw".

Anyway, while said children were cutting and buttering themselves some continental bakery product, they were still playing. And all husband and I could hear from the kitchen were two very Scottish boys repeatedly saying, in very convincing deep south Alabama type american accents (think Cletus from the Simpsons): "Ah'm gonna hunt me a car. Here, car-y car-y car-y car-y" I'm pretty sure I don't want to know anything about that game. My head is screwed up enough already.


That's a contented sigh rather than a fed up one. Eurovision Dance Contest lived up to its promise. BUCKETLOADS of fake tan, dodgy costumes and make up shovelled on with a trowel. And the women didn't look much better. Ba-dum shish! Seriously if you didn't watch it, how are you going to get your recommended intake of tat for the year?

You want highlights? How about:

  • Numerous countries going for the old "pull off the girl's skirt" routine a la Bucks Fizz. One couple then used the skirt as a cape (slightly pervy) and one couple went for the "sod pulling off the skirt, lets have her take off her whole dress over her head while the bloke distracts us with his pecs" line. It worked too - they won. (She had another red sparkly frock on underneath, naturally.)
  • Austrian couple jiving. To "Can't touch this". Sadly the bloke wasn't wearing MC Hammer baggy nappy-type trousers. Can't help feeling that was an opportunity missed.
  • Azerbijan. Where do I start? Vampire theme. Camp vampire. In tights. With a slightly girly cape. And sequins. Oh my god, the sequins. Then, THEN, he proposed to his partner while Claudia Winkelman was trying to interview them. He said she'd marry him if they won. Len Goodman who was filling the Terry Wogan role commented on this heartwarming little scene: "I think I am going to throw up". Me too, Len. (They didn't win. Do you think he took the ring back? We need to be told). Craig Revel Horwood's comment: "Some people will do anything for some votes"
  • One of the male dancers, I forget who, starting wittering about how great his partner looked in the bathroom, at which point Claudia said "OK you, stop talking now" and turned her back on him. The look on his face was priceless.
  • The Lithuanian girl seemed to be wearing a dressing gown. The Greek girl's dress appeared to be mostly painted on and where it wasn't painted on it was tied on with string. Confusing to take off, I'd have thought.
It was heaven. And did I mention this was all taking place in Glasgow? I sincerely hope none of the dancers decided to go for a pint afterwards. They wouldn't have lasted 5 minutes in a Glasgow pub.

On second thoughts, girls wearing next to nothing, orange fake tan all round and dodgy dance moves? On a Saturday night? They'll blend right in. As long as they remember to order a kebab by about 2am.

Friday, 5 September 2008

Oh my.

I can barely breathe. I knew Strictly Come Dancing was due to return soon (Second Born told me, hyperventilating with excitement as he did so) and I am naturally in a state of eager anticipation about that. However, that is not happening this weekend. Do you know what is happening this weekend? Do you? Let me tell you.

The Eurovision Dance Contest. I'll pause while that sinks in. The Eurovision. Dance. Contest. Pro-celebrity couples from around Europe in a Eurovision contest. Dancing. I fear I may succumb to overwhelming cheese overload, crumpling gracefully at the knees like a Jane Austen heroine, fanning myself at the thought of the feast of fake tan, sequins and camp-itude in store.

You may recall that I love the Eurovision Song Contest. I have also confessed that I adore Strictly Come Dancing and have infected Second Born with that particular virus too. Now some certifiable lunatic somewhere has come up with the stroke of pure genius that combines the two. And Claudia Winkelman is involved too. It's a good job I don't have a social life as there is no way I am going out on Saturday night now. Could someone else out there please watch it too, so I have someone with whom to discuss the gory details (oh, and there will be gory details, I am sure of it!) afterwards? No? Sure? Okay. Just me then.......

Thursday, 4 September 2008

Be afraid. Be very afraid.

The first couple of weeks back to school have been full of accomplishments for First Born and Second Born. First Born gets to wear long trousers instead of shorts and looks suddenly very grown up - the teenager/adult he is going to be sort of peeking out through the gesticulating, bouncing, flapping, Dr Who-obsessed 10 year old. He has also conquered the fear of rugby and is rather looking forward to games tomorrow. *sags with relief*

Second Born, for his part, coyly reported that he has been elected as his class representative on the Pupils' Council. We warmly congratulated him and then pumped him for information on how this came to pass (they normally don't tell us ANYTHING about what happens at school so when he volunteers a snippet we jump on it like .........well, like me on a box of Thorntons chocolates). He explained that anyone who wanted to put themselves forward stood at the front of the class, then you told the class why they should vote for you and after several rounds of voting and elimination of the people with fewest votes, the last one standing is elected. Which in this case, was SB. We asked of course, what did he say to his classmates to get himself elected?

Apparently, he said "You should vote for me because I look after my friends." The look on his face made us suspect that the unspoken part of that pitch was "My enemies, on the other hand, I crush like insects beneath my feet. Choose wisely." Gordon Brown had better watch his back.

Tuesday, 2 September 2008

You're not reading this are you? Good.

April posted recently about how she stifled herself by making her blog too "available". I think she put it on Facebo or Bebook or one of those sites that I confess I don't really understand. Anyway, it appears that the thought of people reading her writing by accident, people who hadn't actually made the journey to her blog on purpose, sort of gagged her.

I found that interesting. You would expect that anyone who writes a blog would be over the moon to have more readers - any readers - seeing their stuff. But I really understand what she means. Most of the time this blog is frivolous drivel (the name I plan to give my band if I ever, you know, learn to play a musical instrument and stop being a lawyer and go on the road) and I couldn't care less who does or does not see it. I write it partly to entertain myself and partly to commit to writing stuff that I will otherwise forget. It is not world-stopping stuff. The fact that I can burp on demand is not going to make a difference to people's lives. (It may make a difference to my children's lives, but that is their problem. Serves them right for being born into this family.)

Some other posts though I found really difficult to write. Some posts I have written, read, re-written, thought about and then deleted. Personal stuff, mostly. No, wait. Personal stuff entirely. The process of writing it was interesting, sometimes cathartic and sometimes it made me realise that until I had written it down, I didn't really know what I thought. I sort of turned round and caught my subconscious typing. Wow. That sounds normal.

Anyway, the point is that I rarely post that stuff. Because people might read it. Blogging is generally supposed to be a bit like writing a diary but you rarely if ever publish your diary for public consumption. And even those who do (Alastair Campbell, John Prescott, David Blunkett for example) edit, correct and polish before publishing. I have not read any of the aforementioned diaries but I am pretty sure they don't contain much "Woke up and felt a bit crap this morning. Think I am getting a spot on my chin again. I am a rubbish human being" Come to think of it, I doubt any of those three ever felt they were worthless individuals. Their books are more likely to consist of "Woke up this morning, realised I am a god! The sooner the country realises this and bends to my will, the better!"

Where the hell was I? Oh yes. Anyway, my point is that with the best will in the world you fret about what people will think about what you post so you self-censor what you post and you find some kinds of writing easier than others. And by "you" of course I mean "I". I like writing shallow frothy stuff and I don't mind reading back my old stuff of this ilk. If I try to be serious and commit deeper stuff to writing (a) it is rubbish. I can't write the proper stuff well, and (b) I worry that people will see it and snort "Self indulgent tosh. I'm off to read Dooce."

And now I am going to save this post and come back and read it again later. Then I will decide whether to hit publish or not.